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The Archivist: Groundhog Day date a momentous topic in 1919 for Oklahoma politician

Mary Phillips reports on stories from The Oklahoman's archives.
BY MARY PHILLIPS Published: February 18, 2013

Apparently, before 1919, Arkansas and Mississippi would celebrate Groundhog Day on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day.

Oklahoma farmers along the eastern state line would tend to follow their Arkansas neighbors.

“In farming communities ground hog day, the elements permitting, is considered the day upon which potatoes should be planted. At that particular time Old Mother Nature is ready to receive her potato crop.

So when people of east-side Oklahoma plant on February 2 and their crop fails, and their Arkansas neighbors do their planting on February 14, and their crop is a success, bad feeling develops.

‘And now I have decided,' said Representative Romine of Spiro, Le Flore County, ‘to ask the legislature to settle the argument and fix ground hog day by statute. I have no particular date to suggest. I am willing to leave that matter to the judgment of the legislator, but the question must be settled on the Arkansas line.'

Romine said that when he made his campaign for member of the house he promised to work to this end, ‘and I am going to remain true to my constituency and do the best I can,' he said.”

It seems the Hon. Mr. Romine intended to keep his promise.

I was unable to verify an official change, but since Groundhog Day is celebrated nationally on Feb. 2, it's possible his bill never made it out of committee.

Read “The Archivist” at


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